Shorthanded Generals start fast, hold off Gladiators for district win
QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson High School’s girls soccer team was playing shorthanded against visiting Riverheads on Monday evening, but that didn’t keep the Generals from picking up their second win in as many matches to start the 2018 season.
Stonewall freshman Kylene Franklin and senior LuLu Funkhouser each struck for a goal in a one-sided first half, and though the Generals couldn’t replicate that success over the final 40 minutes, they did enough to hold off the Gladiators for a 2-1 Shenandoah District win.
The Generals (2-0, 2-0 Shenandoah) played the match without six of their 15 varsity players – including four starters – who were on a trip to New York City with the school’s music department.
“We missed six players and we didn’t play to our potential, but a win’s a win,” said Funkhouser, who scored what turned out to be the game’s decisive goal with 10 minutes left in the first half. “The next game has to be better. We’ve just gotta keep getting better and better, and hopefully we’ll be in possession of the ball more and we’ll get our shots together.”
Stonewall thrived in that aspect in the first half, as they dominated possession and created shot opportunities at a high rate through the first 40 minutes. The Generals, who played with only two substitutes available on the bench and had to call up a handful of junior varsity players for the match, fired only half as many shots (eight) in the second half as they did in the first and failed to turn any of them into goals.
“I think we were exhausted. And they switched up their lineup a little bit but I don’t think that should’ve affected us,” Funkhouser said. “I think all of us were just in slow motion. It was like we were walking up the field.”
It didn’t take long for the Generals to take the lead over Riverheads (0-1), as Franklin put Stonewall on the board off an assist from senior J.J. Dellinger just eight minutes into the action. Franklin, forced to play out of position at outside midfielder on Monday, launched a shot from near the top of the penalty box, and the high shot bounced off the hands of Riverheads goalkeeper Eva Frederick before rolling across the goal line.
“Did not think I could make it because I’m not much on shooting outside the box,” Franklin said, “but when it got that high I was really happy about it.”
Franklin tallied an assist 22 minutes later when she sent a pass to Funkhouser in the middle of the box, and the Stonewall senior bounced off contact, turned and fired a shot into the back of the net to give the Generals a 2-0 lead in the 30th minute.
“We did really good at our passing to feet,” said Franklin, who had a couple scoring chances late in the second half but came up empty on a pair of breakaway opportunities. “I think that was probably our best part, and being able to just get our passes to each other instead of just throwing them everywhere.”
That two-goal lead held up for Stonewall until Riverheads cut that advantage in half on Abbey Eavers’ goal – which skipped past freshman keeper Isabell Dellinger, a JV call-up – with 8:45 remaining.
Generals’ first-year head coach Ginny Dellinger said the team’s depleted roster forced Stonewall to put a few players in unfamiliar positions on the field. In addition to Franklin moving from forward to outside mid, senior midfielder Susannah Garber played the entire match at defender, as did freshman Katie Jordan, who typically splits time between the back line and forward.
“We never subbed any on the defense and you could tell in the second half that we were starting to struggle,” Ginny Dellinger said. “But it’s OK. They held it. I was a little scared there. We had so much field possession in the first half and then the second half it was so much more back-and-forth. I think if we’d had all our normal players we’d have been a little more solid in the second half.”
Stonewall ended up attempting 24 shots to Riverheads’ five in the match, including 14 on goal. Frederick and fellow Gladiators keeper Rebecca Cox had six saves apiece.
The Generals return to action on Wednesday with a home game against Page County, part of a boys and girls doubleheader that begins with the boys at 5:30 p.m.